Category: REDCAT

Music review: KarmetiK Machine Orchestra at REDCAT

April 13, 2012 |  3:20 pm

KarmetiK SamsaraWe build robots to do things we don’t want to do, say vacuum the rug or drop bombs. Business and government love robots because machines master the universe. Machines always win.

Young artists, however, increasingly turn to machines simply because the machines are cool, and because young artists all have MacBooks, which make the artists feel like masters of the universe. The KarmetiK Machine Orchestra, a CalArts invention on display at REDCAT Thursday night, is very cool, very MacBookish and very much interested in mastering the universe. We used to call that cultural imperialism, but that was before a techno-beat became a universal force for dulling cultural distinctions.

The show, “Samsara” (which repeats Friday), however, was meant to be high-mindedly and ambitiously interdisciplinary. Fine guest artists were contributors. Ancient Indian tradition — dance, music and storytelling — bumped into high, medium-high and low technology.

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Sandra Bernhard returning to REDCAT with new show

April 9, 2012 | 11:28 am


Sandra Bernhard, who performed at REDCAT last year, is set to return to the downtown Los Angeles venue with her new show, "Sandrology." The comedian is scheduled to appear from May 30 to June 3, with all performances at 8 p.m, except the final one, which will begin at 7 p.m.

"Sandrology" will examine "the worlds of contemporary culture, politics and celebrity," according to organizers. The show, which will feature Bernhard with a rock band, takes its title from the comedian's regular spot on the Bravo talk show "Watch What Happens Live," on which she serves as a "cultural anthropologist."

Last year, Bernhard appeared at REDCAT with her show "I Love Being Me, Don't You?" The comedian is known for her aggressive performance style, and sometimes raunchy and profane rhetoric.

REDCAT said "Sandrology" will feature musical numbers. The organization said that Bernhard's previous show had sold out and that they had been in talks with her to return ever since.


Sandra Bernhard loves being onstage

Review: 'Sandra Bernhard: I Love Being Me, Don't You?'

Music review: Morton Subotnick, California E.A.R. Unit at REDCAT

-- David Ng

Photo: Sandra Bernhard. Credit: Richard Hartog / Los Angeles Times

Music review: Morton Subotnick, California E.A.R. Unit at REDCAT

March 25, 2012 |  2:25 pm

A beautiful retro-futurist atmosphere hovered over REDCAT on Saturday night as iconic electronic music composer-performer Morton Subotnick’s seminal “Silver Apples of the Moon” and “A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur” were brought vividly to life, here and now, with tools spanning the ages. 

Subotnick, the conceptualist and conjurer at the center, manned his laptop and Buchla200e synthesizer as the intrepid California E.A.R. Unit lent its piano/violin/percussion forces in a guided improvisational tour de force.

Subotnick’s original 1966 recording of “Silver Apples,” commissioned by Nonesuch Records, is a veritable “greatest hit” of electronic music history, appealing to an uncommonly wide public. It broke the esoteric mold of electronic music, an artistic landmark nonetheless accessible in its rippling rhythmic pulses and harmonic shimmer. “A Sky of Cloudless Sulphur,” from 1977, was made with the same mix of Buchla synths and tape recorders. In short, claims of his being the “godfather of techno” are more than idle hype.

Subotnick and the E.A.R. Unit are allies with a layered history. They have previously collaborated and share an academic-experimental common ground at the California Institute of the Arts -- of which Subotnick was a founding faculty member. It is now a home base for current Unit members pianist Vicki Ray, violinist Eric KM Clark and percussionist Amy Knoles (here equipped with an extended “drum kit,” including jumbo bass drum and bodhran).

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Theater review: 'El Pasado Es un Animal Grotesco' at REDCAT

February 24, 2012 |  4:07 pm

Grotesq 1a
The world keeps spinning, relentlessly, though at varying speeds, in Argentine writer and director Mariano Pensotti's “El Pasado Es un Animal Grotesco” (The Past Is a Grotesque Animal), a hypnotic merry-go-round of story lines performed on a rotating wooden turntable that looks like it was just erected by a few handymen from the corner hardware store.

This often-entrancing collage, which is being presented at REDCAT through Sunday, investigates the destinies of several arty twentysomethings over a 10-year span, from 1999 to 2009. Set in Buenos Aires, the piece travels to different cities (Paris, Rio, Los Angeles) as its characters struggle to come to terms with the setbacks and compromises of mid-30s adulthood, when identity is no longer a game of infinite possibility.

The sensibility is lushly South American, mixing soap opera with surrealism, naturalism with hypertheatricality. (The influence of fellow Argentine writer Julio Cortázar on Pensotti is detectable in the way “El Pasado” hopscotches not just between Paris and Buenos Aires but between stream of consciousness and cinéma vérite.) But the real locale isn't to be found on any map; Pensotti's characters actually reside in the gap between dreams and reality.

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Influences: Early Morning Opera's Lars Jan

January 25, 2012 |  9:30 am

Lars JanEven with the genre-bending eclecticism of today’s avant-garde, Lars Jan stands out. “Abacus,” the piece he brings to town next week, draws from opera, film and performance art, and concerns, among other things, the arbitrary state of national boundaries, the craze for TED presentations and the communication style of mega-churches.

“I’ve become really interested in our heavily screen-based society,” the multimedia artist says. “This is the screen age. I feel like screens have kicked the pants off performance since cinema was invented,” increasing the advertising beamed at us and limiting our ability to have long-term thoughts. “I wonder what will happen when the pendulum begins to swing back.”  

Jan is a polymath in other ways too: The son of émigrés from Afghanistan and Poland, he’s worked in Japan, Afghanistan and Ukraine and studied at Swarthmore and CalArts. (“Abacus” came out of his Los Angeles-based art lab, Early Morning Opera.)

Jan, 33, discussed his influences from Sundance, where he premiered “Abacus” before bringing it to REDCAT Feb. 2-4. 

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PST, A to Z: ‘Artistic Evolution,’ ‘The Experimental Impulse’

December 23, 2011 | 10:56 am

Pacific Standard Time will explore the origins of the Los Angeles art world through museum exhibitions throughout Southern California over the next six months. Times art reviewer Sharon Mizota has set the goal of seeing all of them. This is her latest report.

Robert Irwin, "Lucky U"
Most Pacific Standard Time exhibitions offer a mix of artworks and documentation — such is the nature of a project with such a historical mission. But this approach sometimes makes the art look like a mere illustration of the history. It’s difficult to strike the proper balance between art that appeals to us on aesthetic terms, and history that seeks to tell stories or provide a broader context. Two PST shows, “Artistic Evolution: Southern California Artists at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles” and “The Experimental Impulse” at REDCAT don’t even try. The former is an exhibition of art; the latter features only documentation. As it turns out, both approaches work rather well, although they do require a bit of prior knowledge to fully appreciate the results.

“Artistic Evolution” is a small show in the rotunda of the Natural History Museum, which before 1965 was the Los Angeles County Museum of History, Science and Art. As Christopher Knight discussed in his review, it’s smartly and economically curated with succinct, informative wall texts and some early gems by artists who later went on to prominence. Despite the show’s historical focus, it puts the art first, a move that feels surprisingly appropriate amid halls of prehistoric skeletons.

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Robert Wilson, Lucinda Childs production of 'Patio' postponed

December 16, 2011 |  1:39 pm

  Robert Wilson in "Patio"
A planned collaboration between famed theater director Robert Wilson and choreographer Lucinda Childs at the Pacific Standard Time festival has been postponed indefinitely, organizers said on Friday.

"I Was Sitting on My Patio This Guy Appeared I Thought I Was Hallucinating" was scheduled to begin performances on Jan. 26 as part of the Getty's Pacific Standard Time, in collaboration with LAXART. The production was intended to be a kind of re-creation of the piece's 1977 debut at the Wilshire Ebell Theatre.

Organizers said in a release sent Friday that Wilson and Childs have determined that the production "cannot be fully realized without the additional time and attention to detail this seminal performance requires."

The production had been planned to unfold for 11 performances at REDCAT, as part of the Pacific Standard Time Performance and Public Art Festival, which is running Jan. 19-29.


Robert Wilson to revisit '77 L.A. performance piece at REDCAT

Pacific Standard Time announces music, dance events

-- David Ng

Photos: Robert Wilson in "Patio," in 1977. Credit: © Estate of Horst P. Horst / Art + Commerce

Dancers go gaga over choreographer Ohad Naharin

December 16, 2011 | 10:08 am

Ohad Naharin
Dancers in the Sharon Disney Lund School of Dance will perform the works of Israeli choreographer Ohad Naharin -- “Echad Mi Yodea” (Who Knows One) and “Humus" -- Friday and Saturday at REDCAT. The CalArts students learned more than the choreography, they learned a new dancing technique.

Naharin and his rehearsal director Danielle Agami are committed to spreading the technique he calls Gaga, seeing it as a way for dancers to become more expressive. The underlying objective is to free them from self-consciousness so they can experience genuine pleasure. “By giving them permission to be themselves,” Agami says, “we hope they’ll find their natural instincts. It’s amazing how this translates into more powerful dancing, and emotional and physical maturity. In the end, Gaga is healing and strengthening –- just like Ohad’s dances. ”

Read the story about Ohad Naharin and the CalArts dancers.

For a bird’s-eye view into how Naharin choreographs, check out Israeli filmmaker Tomer Heymann’s film “Out of Focus: A Documentary on Ohad Naharin” from 2007 or even just the trailer on YouTube.

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Music Center garage gets automated, now takes credit cards

December 1, 2011 |  9:00 am

Music Center
The above sign has been greeting patrons who park in the Music Center’s garage, but don’t be alarmed: the new automated parking system debuting Thursday at the downtown venue will apply only to weekday daytime users. Parking for performances, like the shows themselves, will still involve the human factor. Contrary to what the sign says, attendants will be on duty.

The main change for performing arts patrons who use the eight-level, county-owned garage beneath the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, Ahmanson Theatre and Mark Taper Forum is that they'll now have the option of paying the $9 fee with a credit or debit card.

For concert-goers using the garage beneath Walt Disney Concert Hall, parking remains cash only.

Nick Chico, Los Angeles County’s manager of parking services, said Wednesday that the 1,400-car garage under 135 N. Grand Ave. is the first in a series of county-owned parking facilities that will be automated; the Disney Hall garage probably won’t be re-equipped for some years to come.

The biggest advantage, he said, is an expected end to revenue “leakage” –- a euphemism for when the human factor introduces a degree of larceny. Based on industry-wide experience, Chico said, the county’s initial $1 million investment in equipment, software and changes to garage structures and electronics promises to yield a 6% to 15% increase in parking receipts. The county keeps 81.78% of parking proceeds, with the rest going to Classic Parking, the company contracted to run the garage.

Until 4:30 p.m. on weekdays, garage users -– primarily people with business in the nearby courthouses and County Hall of Administration -– will no longer pay as they enter. They’ll zip right in and park. But when it’s time to leave, before getting back into their cars they’ll use one of four newly installed machines to pay what they owe. The machine will spit out a receipt to present at the exit gate, enabling a bar to rise and sending each vehicle on its way.

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Music review: Wadada Leo Smith’s 'Ten Freedom Summers,' REDCAT

October 31, 2011 | 12:38 pm

Ten Freedom Summers
This review has been updated, see note below for details.

For all the noble efforts made over the decades to effectively merge the worlds of jazz and classical music, most often the fruits of the labors remain stuck in the “noble effort” category. But there are blissful exceptions, a list to which we can now add Wadada Leo Smith’s ambitious five-hour, civil rights-surveying “Ten Freedom Summers,” given a moving world premiere at REDCAT on Friday through Sunday nights.           

Of course, it helps that the 70-year-old “jazz” trumpeter-composer Smith, a longtime CalArts faculty member with roots in the fabled AACM (Assn. for Advancement of Creative Musicians), has worked on both sides of the mediumistic “aisle.” His magnum opus, 21 movements spread over three nights, boldly conjoins his various impulses.

For the performances, the REDCAT stage was divided between Smith's “jazz-”minded Golden Quartet and Southwest Chamber Music. Video elements by Ismail Ali and Robert Fenz added modestly to the sensory whole. This blending made for a fitting gesture in a work addressing heroes -– including Emmett Till, Rosa Parks, Medgar Evers and of course, Martin Luther King Jr. -- and heroic moments in Civil Rights history, a movement about striving towards equality and freedom.

Southwest Chamber, known for braving contemporary musical challenges (including past work by Smith), proved an ideal ensemble for the job. Conductor Jeff von der Schmidt led the nine-piece group through strictly through-composed passages and moveable modules. A wafting of minimalist textures runs through the section titled “John F. Kennedy’s New Frontier and the Space Age,” while the sterner stuff of post-serialist writing arises elsewhere, asserting necessary rage and indignation.

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